DURRANT, Leverstock Green, early 20th century
Chapman, who runs the Leverstock
Green Chronicle writes:
My researches on Leverstock Green
have recently been focused on WWI and has thrown up additional information on
the Durrant family who were based in Leverstock Green during the early part of the
20th century - Rev. Arthur Durrant was
vicar here from 1899 till his death in 1936.
Arthur Durrant and his wife, Alice Pelly, (a daughter of Canon Raymond Pelly,) were married in 1885 and had
three children when they moved to Leverstock Green
in 1899: Lorna, Arthur
Michael (known as Michael) and Enid. A fourth daughter Dorothy
Mary, was born in 1906, and died tragically in 1933. She is a
particularly intriguing character and is generally thought to be the model for
Katherine Clifton, the heroin in the novel
the English Patient. More about her life and death can be found by going
to my website on Leverstock Green in the
20th century (http://lgchronicle20.homestead.com/CONTENTS.html
) and clicking on the link to Dorothy Durrant.
The Durrant's eldest daughter, Lorna, died unmarried (though there is quite a
story attached to that as well!) in 1951, still resident in Leverstock Green.
Until recently I had assumed that the brother Michael,
who was awarded the Military Cross, and was killed in action in 1916, also
died unmarried and without children. However, on recently coming across
his obituary in the Hemel Hempstead
Gazette I discovered that whilst home on leave from the war he married Miss Jemima Wilson, a daughter of the late Captain Belford Randolph Wilson, 19th Hussars, of Grey Wells, Hampshire. Although they could
have spent very little time together before his death, it is possible that
they had a child, and subsequently a family today descended from Michael Durrant.
I am particularly keen to contact any living relatives of the Durrants, particularly any direct descendants of
Michael, as he was a talented artist and
architect, and in 1909 he exhibited a picture in the Royal Academy of Leverstock Green Church.( He exhibited other
architectural work as well) It is my hope to eventually be able to track down
this picture, and perhaps to the designs he drew up for the Parish Hall -
never to be built in the form he envisaged. It would seem that Michael worked for Moresmith
& Durrant, Architects, of 14 Union Street London EC; and was the architect
for St. James Church Watford, and was
responsible for much of the rebuilding of the parish church in Broadstairs.
Michael was not the only artistic member
of the family, his sister Dorothy was a
renowned sculptress ( though I have been unable to find any examples of her
work); The Rev. Arthur too was a well
known local painter, the following appearing in the Herts Advertiser as part
of his obituary: "He painted, during the last twenty years, nearly a
hundred canvases, for the most part scenes of Leverstock
Green and its surroundings. His subjects also included a
number of French landscapes and scenes
round Paris. he was for many years a
pupil of St. Albans School of Art -
and continued his studies there regularly every week to the end of last
The middle sister Enid, initially married
Mr. C.H. Moore, son of Mr. H.T. Moore of Redbourne
House Redbourne on 28th August 1920. However, if local rumour is to
be believed she later divorced him (unheard of for a vicar's daughter at that
time). By the time of the death of brother-in-law Sir Robert Clayton-East-Clayton in 1932 Enid had
remarried. They were both present at Hall Place
when Sir Robert died, later attending his
funeral, being listed as Major and Mrs. George Anson.
Only Enid was present in 1936 at the
funeral of the Rev. Durrant. Enid too was known as a talented artist.
The Rev. Durrant, his wife and their
daughter Dorothy are all buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard Leverstock Green. The
oak screen in the church was erected by the Rev. Durrant
in memory of his family, and an additional inscription in Lorna's memory was
also added in the 1950's.
Given the ever increasing interest in family history, it is my hope that a
present day member of the family (perhaps a descendant of Michael or Enid)
will log onto your site and may be good enough to get in touch with me.
They may well have knowledge of the whereabouts ( if indeed they still exist)
of some of the important artwork produced by the highly talented Durrants earlier last century..
I cannot offer any advice except to say that the Public Records Office may have details
of any pension arrangements for Michael Durrant
- which should include children, it any. Otherwise I can only hope that
posting your message will attract more information about this interesting
If you can add to the information given
above tell me.